Monday, August 3, 2015

Annuit Coeptis


The purpose of the seminar was not to give a history lesson; rather to find a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Parent, God.  During one of the session, our presenter, Ron Pappalardo, directed our attention toward some unknown events of the history of America and how the founders of our country have been depending on the input of Divine Providence.   In formulating the constitution of the United States and some other resolutions, the founders made sure that they gave honor and praise to God with emphasis on the great spirit rather than any particular religion; with focus on principles of nature and separation of powers. 

That’s why in 1782, Charles Thomson as the secretary of the Continental Congress, suggested the motto Annuit Coeptis which he took from writings of Virgil, the Roman writer.

At one point Ron asked us to take out a one dollar bill.  We all learned something about the Latin words printed on the bill and gained a deeper respect for our founding Fathers.


~ Motto Above the Eye of Providence on the Great Seal, Charles Thomson (1729-1824)  Patriot leader during the American Revolution

Here is the best translation of these ancient words:
“He has favored (blessed) our endeavors (activities).”

That was only one titbits we learned about this weekend in the seminar conducted by Ron Pappalardo.  He teaches about connections with the spiritual world and how we can all access a closer relationship with the Divine.  His approach requires humility and diligence seeking out our Heavenly Parent.

Here is a link to one other presentation Ron gave:



I was very moved by Ron’s incredible enthusiasm and passion to communicate with God and find answers to some of the deepest human secrets.

 

Monday, July 6, 2015

I am the Beloved


“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
~1 John 4:7-8 

According to the dictionary the meaning of “beloved” is being cherished, treasured and dearly-loved.  It takes a relationship to be the ‘beloved.’

From the moment we are born on this earth we have the need to be loved.  It is hard-wired into our human existence to be loved.  Babies who are not experiencing being cared for beyond their physical needs such as being cuddled and touched often grow into uncaring and selfish adults.  As humans we find ourselves challenged to find the balance between our physical (external) and spiritual (internal) needs.  We are very much aware of our five physical senses but only claim the “6th sense” as a tool for intuition.  We know now that there are equally spiritual senses corresponding to the five physical senses.  More and more people have ESP (extra sensory perception) experiences.  And that is nothing to laugh about because even science has recognized the “other” invisible world as real and measureable.

In a book called “Doorway to the Soul” Ron Scolastico discusses the deep hunger for love, connection, and spiritual experience we may feel at a certain time in our life. Some people may get restless, frustrated, or even depressed because they cannot find fulfillment in their physical activities only.

“Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.”
~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World



All other creatures just have to grow, taking in the sun, water, food, etc. and they fulfill their given purpose.

As humans we have one added (often overlooked) aim and that can only be achieved when we use our free will.  To become fully aware of this faculty of our mind we have to discover our true identity.  We were created in the image of God, our heavenly parent.  To learn that we are children of the all-powerful, all-knowing, and eternal Creator of this infinite universe is a lot to digest.  For many of us we cannot fathom that we have infinite beauty, goodness, and love hidden inside of us.  It may be a tremendous challenge to take off the many filters of our own perspective, taught beliefs, and adapted opinions.  It takes a lot of effort and good intentions to find the deeper realities.  Could changing our attitude about our true identity be the missing link to internal peace?
“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
~ Confucius
 
It takes humility to discover that blessedness and being the “beloved.”  One place to start is to be grateful for life itself, for what we have, where we live and whom we come in contact with.  Becoming aware of God’s presence takes practice; the rewards are infinite.  Practicing consideration and kindness to others takes the focus away from ourselves.  Paying attention to those connections we discover infinite power, power to change and to grow ourselves spiritually.  With the right intention comes even greater fulfillment.

 

Monday, May 11, 2015

What is Mercy?


 
“Mercy is the ability to see through and beyond that which appears, to that which is eternal and never changes.”
~ Michele Longo O’Donnell

According to the dictionary mercy is a form of compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

In her book “The God That We’ve Created” Michele Longo says that mercy is not compassion; compassion is compassion; mercy is not forgiveness; forgiveness is forgiveness.  She builds her insight on the words of James:

“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
~ James 2:13

She says that mercy is from a higher atmosphere of thought.  Mercy excels over judgement.  It is more desired than judgement.  Mercy is the judgement of God.  God sees all his creation, especially his children, with mercy.  When mercy touches our hearts … we are changed forever.  We see ourselves as new creatures, we can change our lives and can even be healed.

Because God sees us as we truly are: our core true, innocent nature, we are governed by his love and truth.  Traditional teachings tell us that God judges us according to our sins.  That would make us fear God because judgement is governed by fear.  Michele suggests that we are governed by mercy with love and truth.

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lift Your Face toward the Sun

During this past Sunday Service pastor Mike used the phrase: “Lift your face toward the sun rather than looking down to the ground.”  This is not to get a nice sun tan or to appear arrogant.  He used it to encourage us to have a positive attitude and to be optimistic.  He also referred to Matthew 5:44-45:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Jesus here talked about how God being unbiased, sends the sun and the rain on all of us equally.  We don’t have to qualify with our behavior.  I found some other quotes which support this understanding.  Why not get the sun when it is so abundantly available?

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
~ Helen Keller

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
~ Psalm 84:11

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
~ Maori Proverb

 May the road rise to meet you.
 May the wind be always at your back.
 May the sun shine warm upon your face.
 And rains fall soft upon your fields.
 And until we meet again,
 May God hold you in the hollow of His hand… .

Turn your face to the sun.
There is goodness in the world that even the river of tears cannot erase.
~ Maithri Goonetilleke 

May experience many moments this week where you can turn your face to the sun both literally and symbolically.  May you always be aware of the choices we have: look up or look down.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Lion and the Mouse Fable

A lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws.  A timid little mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the lion's nose.  Woken from his nap, the lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.

"Spare me!" begged the poor mouse. "Please let me go and someday I will surely repay you."

The lion was so amused at the idea of the little mouse being able to help the King of Beasts that he lifted up his paw and let her go.

Some weeks later, the lion was caught in a net.  The hunters, who desired to carry the lion alive to their King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him.

Just then the little mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the lion's sad plight, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes of the net, freeing the lion.

"You have helped me and now I have returned the favor.  Was I not right - even a mouse can help a lion!" said the little mouse.

The Moral of the story: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
 



This story has been told in many variations.  It is part of a collection called the Aesop Fables.  The morals of the story are timeless and can be enjoyed by children as well as adults.  Because the characters are represented by animals, we cannot be offended by the message. 
 
As the great English writer G. K. Chesterton pointed out:
“They have no choice, they cannot be anything but themselves.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are


The only thing I knew about Booker T. Washington was that he found many ways of using peanuts.  In the process of my research I learned that he wasn’t the farmer after all rather than a teacher and educator who became a leader of the newly emancipated African-Americans after being liberated from slavery.  George Washington Carver who was a student of his school in Tuskegee, Alabama was the one who experimented with growing better yields of peanuts, sweet potatoes and pecans. 

I was very much moved when I read Booker Washington’s biography Up From Slavery.  I was mostly impressed by his humble and grateful attitude regarding his upbringing.  He never blamed anybody for his circumstances or was resentful for his life.  Even after being freed his family was very poor and had little to eat.  Even young children had to work from morning till night in the salt mine, coal mine or the mill.  But because of his determination to make something of himself he found a way to learn, adopt and even go to school.  His desire to learn was so strong that he eventually was accepted at the Hampton School in Virginia.  He was so motivated to learn that he started out with night classes at Hampton’s.  He spend the whole day working for a white family doing basic homemaking chores.  Because he wanted to do a good job, he excelled in all his doings which not only gave him the confidence of his employer but also helped him eventually to work at the school in the same way, while going to classes.  He became an exemplary student and showed many of the new pupils who to learn physical skill while also absorbing the book knowledge. 

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
~ Booker T. Washington (1856-1905), Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

In time, his supervisor, General Samuel C. Armstrong choose Booker to open a new school in Tuskegee, Alabama to further the education of the children of the freed slaves in the south.  In all his doing Prof. Washington encouraged the students to apply their physical skills.  In fact, the whole curriculum of the school was designed in that the students worked half a day and the other half was for studying and recreation.  Dr. Washington saw the Tuskegee school as his life’s work.  He invested himself completely and won the support not only of his own people but also the influential white folks.  He traveled all over and presenting his work with the students at Tuskegee resulted in the financial support of many of the former slave holders as well the generosity of northern businesses.  During that time he became a well-spoken public orator which gained him even greater funding.  His address known as the Atlanta Compromise Speech in 1895 brought him more fame and requests for presentations and appearances to benefit the cause of the black people.

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

After some 18 years of total dedication to the education of black population of the south, some of his supporters decided that he needed a break.  Some of his northern benefactors got together to plan a trip to Europe.  Mr. Washington in his humility didn’t want to accept at first the expenses for the fare across the Atlantic.  None-the-less, he benefitted greatly, not only from the rest and relaxation the voyage provided for him and his wife, but also from the many new contacts he made while overseas.

“Character, not circumstance, makes the person.”

He often reflected on how far he had come ‘up from slavery’ meeting with presidents, royalties and high society.  He always went back to his own roots deeply planted in his faith in the greatest benefactor, God.  His involvement was never political rather, he proposed education and raising the standard of living for his own people.

To say the least, I was very moved reading the accounts of Dr. Booker T. Washington’s experiences following his way with strong determination, hard work and deep faith.  His motto never changed: cast down your bucket where you are.  This is a great lesson for all of us, be grateful for what you have and where you are, but follow a greater vision with passion and persistence. 

 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Where is Common Sense Today?


Common sense means different things to different people.  It seems that in many ways what was right before is now wrong, and what was wrong is now right. 

According to Wiki ‘common sense’ is the basic ability to perceive, understand and judge things by most people.  We all know that in our diversified society that very rarely brings us to a mutual result.  So, what is really our collective denominator?  I believe that the only way that we can find a shared ‘sense’ is that we take God’s point of view. 

“In my opinion, if we have not achieved peace, it is because people forget its most fundamental aspect. Before we talk about peace among nations, we must settle our peace with God.”
~ Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), Korean Spiritual Leader
 
Without getting into a religious discussion, we can all agree that we were born as men and women.  We all have a mind which allows us to think, feel and make decisions and a body through which we fulfill that which the mind directs us to do.

 
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American psychologist who put together a hierarchy of needs which describes the human needs in priority and ultimately culminates in self-actualization.  He suggested to focus on the positive qualities in people rather than treating them as ‘bag of symptoms.’

"The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.
 We have it in our power to begin the world over again."
 ~ Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

When I was looking for more common sense connections I came across a site which refers to a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine (1737-1809) called: Common Sense.  The content of this document became the inspiration for the people of the 13 colonies to declare independence in 1776. 

Most people have maybe never heard of this document.  It spread like wildfire through the colonies and became the argument for freedom from the British rule.  Thomas Paine published the work at first anonymously because he wanted it to be focused on the content and the ideas rather than make a name for himself.  He wrote the article in a style which was understood by the common people.

Today is Thomas Paine’s birthday according to some accounts.  February 9th is recorded in the ‘new style’ birth records.

"A body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody."
~ Thomas Paine

That brings me back to my suggesting to use a common denominator in the picture.  Unless we find our shared roots mankind can never find the solutions we are so desperately looking for.  Let us be accountable to the one God who created us all and who is waiting eagerly for us to have ‘common sense.’